CAMP RED CLOUD -- It's been only about a month since we in Area I held our annual holiday tree lightings, and with our enthusiastic youngsters helping throw the power switch, saw the trees come to life in a blaze of festive colors.

Those ceremonies put us on the cheerful path to Christmas itself, and then, to the arrival of this, a New Year.

We enter this new year with a sense of excitement at several important things ahead for our garrison and its vital, support-the-warfighter mission.

But we also enter it with a sharp eye on winter safety. Because we know that with winter comes the possibility of snow and ice, and the hazards they pose to motorist and pedestrian alike.

Among the exciting things ahead this year is the arrival from the United States of another rotational set of combat units for nine-month tours here in Warrior Country.

The units come from the United States and serve here with the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division.

Nearing the end of their nine-month rotations are two such units, both part of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas: the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, known as the "Black Jack Brigade," or, in military shorthand, the "2-1 Cav," and the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, known as "Deep Strike."

Replacing the Black Jack brigade will be a unit from Fort Hood, Texas. Replacing the "Deep Strike" battalion will be a unit from Fort Sill, Okla.

The Combined Division and our other tenant units focus on staying "Ready to Fight Tonight" in defense of the Republic of Korea; our garrison focuses on giving them the facilities and services they need to keep at their warfighter mission.

For the rotational units we do all those things but a few others too that are part of supporting the relief of a departing unit by an arriving one -- a "relief-in-place."

And that's what we're gearing up to do soon as the incoming units replace Black Jack and Deep Strike.

It's a garrison-wide effort that draws on the skill and expertise of many, including those in our Directorate of Public Works, in our Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and elsewhere.

It's our DPW of course that keeps the roads, buildings and other facilities in good working order. They keep our power grid humming, the heat and hot water working.

DPW's Housing Office has a central role in aiding the relief-in-place of the rotational units.

From the moment the rotational unit's Soldiers pull in to our Area I installations, our Housing Office is ready and waiting to give them a briefing with key information, hand them the keys to their quarters, get them together with their sponsors, then see that their sponsors get them quickly to their rooms. This our Housing staff does at whatever hour of day or night they need to. If the troops pull in in the middle of the night, Housing is in place and waiting.

Housing also sees that the Soldiers' living quarters have been supplied with proper bedding and other furnishings.

Other branches of DPW work continually to make sure that the barracks and other facilities the rotational unit will use for nine months are in proper order.

FMWR gives the new arrivals their welcome briefing, facts, tips and other information that help get the Soldiers oriented to the place they'll be serving during their time here in Warrior Country.

I'm proud of our garrison's agile and tireless handling of these intricate unit-in, unit-out transitions. And I look forward to seeing us once again bring our expertise to bear as this next relief-in-place gears up.

But as we continue to hold ourselves to a high standard in carrying out our mission, we also need to keep up our commitment to doing things safely.

If you're not alert and wise behind the steering wheel, if you're not handling a weapon or piece of machinery using proven safe procedures, if you're not putting salt on the winter walkways and moving carefully over an icy patch, you risk injury to yourself and others and risk hindrance to our collective mission.

Winter as I said earlier, is upon us. For that reason, leaders throughout the garrison need timely information about important changes in weather, road and force protection conditions, and other urgent matters or emergencies that may affect Area I. It's called EM2P (Emergency Management Modernization Program). All unit leaders from company level up should self-register with EM2P to receive its alerts.

With a new year ahead of us, it's also a good time to remember that another key ingredient in promoting the well-being of our garrison is that as a community we need to care for one another.

This we do as individuals -- showing respect and friendliness toward each member of our community, being ready with a kind word or helping hand, looking out for the people who are part of your office staff, your squad or platoon.

There's a role in this too if you're a leader, be it active duty or civilian. Don't underestimate the impact you have on the climate and effectiveness of those around you. Taking care of Soldiers, developing your subordinates, fostering a climate of trust and respect, and doing things that strengthen the ties of camaraderie and cohesion, are at the heart of what our Army calls the "human dimension" of leadership.

Safe practices, caring for one another, looking to the human dimension in leadership, will be important to us year round, regardless of where we are on Warrior Country's operational timeline, and regardless of which season we may be in.